A Civics Lesson

In my naïveté, I guess I have always believed that when a candidate wins delegates in a primary, those delegates are somehow “bound” to him. I have the same belief about the Electoral College, and thus consider their actual meeting a mere formality, neither note nor newsworthy.

It may be true of the College (though careful scrutiny of the Constitution reveals no such binding). But it is apparently emphatically not true of the primary process. There, the “rules” are not of law, but of party origin. And apparently, the process by which actual human delegates are named (after being “chosen” by vote or caucus) has a tremendous latitude. There is in fact, a whole secondary battle fought after the primary to determine who the actual delegates are. And whom they represent.

Also apparently, Ted Cruz is a master in the tactics of this secondary, and arguably more important battle, while The Donald (like most Americans, myself included) doesn’t seem to have even been aware this battle needed to be fought. And while Cruz has amassed a huge number of “false flag” delegates, Drumpf is only now starting to wage this shadow campaign.

Look, I detest both GOP front-runners. But I merely abhor Drumpf, while I am petrified by Cruz. If Cruz (or some white knight GOP mainstreamer like Paul Ryan) were to wrest the GOP nomination from Drumpf via an inner manipulation of arcane delegate machinations, I feel reasonably certain that the multitudes of new, inexperienced voters Drumpf has brought to the party would revolt. Not only revolt; they’d likely take their voting power and either mount a third-party run, or else stay away from the polls in droves, hatching revenge plots and stewing in their bile-soup of anger and fear. And by the way: either scenario probably guarantees a Democratic victory for the White House, assuming even tepid support from the Democratic base.

One can certainly imagine the GOP elite willing to make such a sacrifice, if only to keep their party from completely exploding into smithereens after being struck by a blast from the Donald Drumpf Death Star. Better to serve in Congress than reign in the White House, and you can be sure the GOP is worried to death what a Drumpf candidacy might do to their Senate and even House majorities.

So now I take home this lesson in Civics. But not the Civics I learned in Mr. Kimbro’s class in the 9th grade. It’s not just about three branches of government counter-poised to prevent power accumulation in any one branch. It’s not a bicameral Congress that offers stable long-term Senators to balance the “will-of-the-people” rapidly overturning House. These things didn’t turn out the way the Framers envisioned, and neither did the paths to power. No, this is a lesson in realpolitik Civics, where arcane rules and backroom deals still determine the outcomes.

And that’s just for the GOP. Don’t get me started on the Democrats and super-delegates. I’ve had enough Civics lessons for one day.

© 2016 Chuck Puckett